WWE 2K16 Review

WWE 2K16 Review

One Step Closer to the Championship

WWE 2K15 was enough to make you lose faith in the series. With lackluster custom superstar options, one of the smallest character rosters in the series’ history, limited match types, and constant chain wrestling and reversal loops, it was quite possibly the most disappointing game to carry the WWE name. Fortunately, WWE 2K16 rights nearly all of those wrongs, but introduces a few new flaws that keep it from being a headliner.

When it comes to options, WWE 2K16 has players covered. There is so much to see and do here. There is a general play mode with eight different kinds of matches, with between two and twelve options for each one. This is fantastic for people who want to immediately pick up and play, especially since a large cast of Superstars, Divas, Legends, and Managers are immediately available. The Handicap match is most limited, with only two options, but most others have at least three variations to choose from. The one on one matches especially shine with 12 ways to customize a match.

One could even say WWE 2K16 steps into simulation territory, with its multiple story modes. MyCareer is the clearest example, with three character slots available for original Superstars. You not only participate in matches for this man you make, but the decisions made in bouts, on shows, and during interviews influence the avatar’s personality. You can go for different belts and varying levels of prestige, starting out in training under Matt Bloom at what is apparently the WWE Performance Center. It’s quite intriguing.

This simulation element carries over to the WWE Universe mode, as you can have matches simulated and go through virtual days, weeks, and months to see how rivalries progress leading up to a major event. During my play session, as an example, things were leading up to an Extreme Rules match. Even now, as I write this, I’m acting as a spectator and watching a virtual Smackdown match.

Especially interesting is the 2K Showcase mode going through Austin 3:16. This storyline follows Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career, taking you through every match. Here, the simulation element requires you to meet certain objectives to recreate the actual chain of events. For example, the first match is a 1996 King of the Ring battle against Jake “The Snake” Roberts and requires a player to bring him down to critical damage to win.

WWE 2K16 Screenshot

All this variety in WWE 2K16 is a huge step in making amends for WWE 2K15 , especially since gameplay is improved as well. Aside from more match types and more people in the ring at once, a number of core mechanics have been changed to make things feel less gimmicky. WWE 2K15 overwhelmed players with mini-games, which would pop up when chain wrestling, putting someone in a submission hold, and relentless reversals. Here, I typically only encountered one chain wrestling encounter per match, and submission holds occurred quite infrequently. Each were easily explained, leaving less mystery to finding a way out. Also, the limit on reversals keeps them from being abused.

WWE 2K16 Screenshot

However, I did notice a downside to the new WWE 2K16 reversal system. To trigger one, someone must press the lower right trigger at exactly the right time. It took me about an hour to work out the timing perfectly, so I wouldn’t get a dreaded “too fast” or “too slow” message. Even still, I find myself slipping from time to time, especially in online matches.

As for online matches, the quality varied. Stability was vastly improved after a match, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in a practice match while I waited for someone to join. My custom diva still has some issues where her outfit didn’t look quite right in an online match, but her hair looked better after the patch, so I’m certain a future update will make sure she looks exactly the way I intended.

I wish I could say the same for non-custom characters. There are times when the Superstars, Divas, Managers, and Announcers of WWE 2K16 don’t look quite right. Sometimes, they’re stiff, wooden marionettes. The characters plod along and occasionally lumber around the ring, which is fine for people like Andre the Giant and the Big Show, but doesn’t make sense for Daniel Bryan or Stephanie McMahon. But that’s nothing compared to the visual disconnect. The characters look great during their entrances, but there are more than a few characters who look completely different once they’re in the ring. Cactus Jack is one of the few whose likeness remains intact, but others aren’t so lucky. When the Bella twins walk in, they look so much like themselves, but then the match begins and you’re like, “Who are those chicks?”

This might make people a little less upset about the WWE Divas Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks having been left out of the game. Even if they had been included, they probably wouldn’t have looked much like themselves once a match begins. On the plus side, the robust character creator does make it easy to put them in the game and the ability to browse people’s shared creations means you could grab those excluded from someone who already put the time into adding them.

WWE 2K16 Screenshot

Aside from some rather jarring visuals as WWE 2K16 dips into the uncanny valley, the only other issue some might encounter when playing offline is a little repetition. The WWE Universe and MyCareer suffer from this affliction most, as some matches begin to blend together and feel a little too much alike. Especially since the after-match interviews with Renee Young are very generic. She always has the same expression locked onto her character’s face and a character offers the same canned responses every time.

Still, WWE 2K16 does so many things right that a little forgiveness is in order. Everyone involved seems to recognize that mistakes were made with WWE 2K15 and went out of their way to send the series in the complete opposite direction. The disconnect between character’s appearances and occasional stiffness speaks more to a lack of polish than effort, and the result is a generally positive experience that helps renew faith in yearly WWE installments. In fact, WWE 2K16 is so comprehensive, I imagine people will have trouble finding reasons to upgrade to WWE 2K17 next year.

There’s an odd mismatch here, with characters looking good during entrances and often very different in the ring. 4.5 Control
It’s fairly easy to play, though working out reversals takes some time. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is pretty great, with a mix of genres, and the voice acting is all quite true to the characters. 5.0 Play Value
There are so many modes, custom character options, and original character choices that people will find it difficult to upgrade next year. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • The biggest roster in WWE video game history! Play as over 120 unique characters and Raise Some Hell with your favorite WWE and NXT Superstars, Divas, Legends and more.
  • As Link, buddy up with two other Link characters and cooperatively solve inventive puzzles to progress through the game.
  • Relive and play through some of the most iconic WWE matches and moments of all-time in 2K16’s single player story campaign, 2K Showcase. Complete objectives to unlock legendary characters, gear, match types, and unlockables from WWE history.
  • Utilize 2K’s best-in-class Creation Suite to develop your WWE Universe, including options to create, customize and compete with unique Superstars, Divas, Arenas, Shows, Championships and more. Upload your creations and share with the WWE Universe online!
  • Define your legacy in MyCAREER, competing in epic matches and making critical choices while rising through the ranks from NXT to WWE, to earn a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. Train, compete against others, and now define your character in personality-driven interviews and through the forging of alliances and rivalries.
  • For the first time ever, WWE 2K16 will feature a 3-man commentary featuring Michael Cole, John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler! With thousands of additional commentary lines in the game this year, 2K16 will feature the most authentic WWE commentary to date.

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